“Come in, sit down. Mary, do you take milk in your tea?” said Tina, motioning to the round oak table in the center of the kitchen, “There’s sugar in the bowl.”
The table was surrounded by a mismatched collection of appliances, each from a different era. Utensils hung from nails in the wall in a pattern of apparent chaos. The cupboards lacked doors.
“None for me, thank you,” said Mary, “This table cloth is beautiful, did you do the embroidery?”
“Me? Oh no, this is my Aunt Alice’s handiwork. She was clever that way. She did it during the war.”
“Really! It looks so new.” said Mary.
“Well, it is new, in a way. It was in my hope chest. She made it for me, but I never married. I was saving it for a special occasion.”
Sean turned a deep red. Mary laughed.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you blush, Sean,” Mary said, stirring sugar into her tea.
“Well, I… I…” stammered Sean.
“He’s never brought a girl home to meet his family! So it is a very special occasion, I’d say!” Tina said, “Unless you count Suzie Johnson.”
“Who’s that?” said Mary.
“Suzie lived in the next farm over,” said Sean, “We were playmates. Her mother would bring her over almost every day in the summer. We’d play, kids stuff, you know.”
“Once, when Suzie’s mother and I were having coffee, Sean came in and told us that he and Suzie were going to get married someday.” Tina said.
“You never told me you had been engaged!” Mary said, mock anger in her eyes.
“We were only four, besides, it never could have happened. She wanted a big wedding and I wanted to elope.”
“How about you two, what are your intentions?” asked Tina. “Or is this one of those ‘modern’ arrangements?”
There was a moment of silence as Sean and Mary looked at each other.
“Oh, it is serious, then.” Tina continued, “I didn’t mean to pry. Well, actually, I did. You’re the only thing I have left to worry about, Sean, and now that I’ve got you here, I’d like to know exactly what’s going on.”
Mary looked at Sean, Sean looked at Mary. Mary nodded. Sean spoke:
“Aunt Tina, Mary is pregnant.”
“Oh. My. That’s… good news? Isn’t it?” said Tina, “When is the baby due?”
“It’s the best news, it really is,” said Mary, “I’m thinking it should be a New Years baby.”
“Not that marriage has ever been a priority in our family, but you are considering it, yes?”
“Well, it is a bit complicated,” said Sean, “There are some legal complications.”
“Nothing that a good prenuptial agreement couldn’t work out,” Mary said, smiling at Sean’s awkward reply.
Sean blushed again. “You two are ganging up on me!” he said.
“Really Sean, there's no point in extending your adolescence forever,” said Tina, “I know a judge at the courthouse, he can do marriages.”
“… ,” Sean sat open mouthed, at a complete loss for words.
The two women, who had only met a half hour ago, seemed to be of the same mind as they looked at Sean and waited for a response. Finally, he spoke:
“Mary, will you marry me?”
It was Mary’s turn to sit in silence.
“My goodness,” said Tina, “I didn’t mean that you had to decide today. Think about it and then tell me… tomorrow.”